Saturday, November 20, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Sometimes, it's nicer at the weekend, isn't it?
Last Sunday saw another edition of the Observer Music Monthly, leading off with The White Stripes (there's a fuller version, incidently, of the interview on the OMM website - it's the uncut transcript of the meeting). Jack White made some noises about how he doesn't really feel that fond of Detroit anymore - something seized upon by the local press in Detroit, so expect Jack to be forced to make a Boris Johnson style journey of shame there some time soon.

The ten is the worst pop careers from soap opera actors - unforgivably, confusing the name of the Eastenders mutt group (they were The Banned, not the Band) and finding no space for Paul Usher's constant stints at trying to find chart fame which kept him away from Brookside duties; nor for Malandara Burrow's brief attempts to spin Kathy Merrick out into the Top 40. Stefan Dennis comes tops, which feels unfair compared to the Alessi Twins - at least Stefan did clearly, desperately, sadly want to be a pop star, whereas if you listened carefully at the start of the Twins record, you could hear them say "so, is this the single or the pantomime we're doing this morning?" And no Kids From Grange Hill? What sort of list is? No theme from Albion Market? No Pete Dean, Pete Beale as was, doing "aaaayyyyyy-up, I can't get no tickets for the world cup?"

Ricky Gervais gets a visit from the record doctor, which seems a little odd: he's done an XFM show; he did a music programme for Play UK - shouldn't this be a time for the physician to say "heal thyself"? Ricky was much taken, though, with Ian Broudie's new collection of folksier stuff.

There's some split opinions on John Lydon's new role presenting wildlife documentaries for Channel Five: most actual TV reviewers, for whom the forced novelty of a supposed punk pretending to be David Attenborough cannot offset his inability to present a TV programme nor do any more than try and hog the camera at every moment, hate it. Paul Morley, on the other hand, comes from a generation which still feels it owes something to Rotten, and suggests that he's got the makings of a great presenter. But while that's meant to be a compliment, it's just a further illustration of how becalmed Lydon is now: how neutered, that the man who once wrecked Bill Grundy's presentational career now could probably make the shortlist to replace Paul O'Grady at teatime on ITV.

In the New Statesman both Amanda Platell and Mark Thomas are less than impressed by Band Aid 20. Platell complains that "Bono aside... they're a bunch of nobodies; at least the last group were international stars." We think she actually means the group before last, unless she really does believe that you don't hear D-Mob and Sonia on TOTP any more because they're down playing Las Vegas all the time. Even so, it's slightly insane - she makes this claim straight after talking about the Bono/Hawkins spat, which would be another international star right there, and while Robbie Williams might not have broken America, he does have something of a global profile. The record also features Fran Healy and Chris Martin, both of whom have sold a surprising number of records in America; Dizzee Rascal, shortlisted for the Shorlist Prize this year; Peter Gabriel; transatlantic queen of the bland Dido; George Michael; Radiohead; The Thrills actually are American; Joss Stone is doing alright for herself in overseas sales; that David Bowie chap has been known to be recognised in the US, and Paul McCartney isn't exactly restricted in his profile to these islands, either. It's very easy to criticise the team for assembling bland, mass-market dullness, but compared with the first attempt (Heaven 17? Paul Young? Marilyn?) there's no real dropping of the profile. Platell goes on to complain that Band Aid 20 has eschewed International Stars in favour of winners of "reality TV shows like Pop Idol." There is precisely one winner of a reality TV show in there - Will Young - and, as far as we can tell, only one other person whose profile is down to a programme like it, Lemar.

Mark Thomas, of course, actually knows what he's talking about, so his criticism comes from a more valid place: "You would have to be very naive to believe that a single could change an entire continent's well-being. If it could, Nelson Mandela wouldn't have bothered with the armed struggle against aparthied - he would have spent his time practisicing 'Stairway To Heaven' in his bedroom"

The Daily Telegraph has quietly added a pop segment, Music On Thursday, which also features Band Aid. It carries an article by Robin Eggar, who was at "both" Band Aid recordings (this piece is copyrighted Eggar/Band Aid, so we assume that the painting out of history of Band Aid II really is official policy - this would also explain why bananarama weren't invited to make it three out of three; their presence would have only made sense if II was part of the official canon). Eggar also moans that the artists last time round were of higher, "international" stature, at the same time as moaning that it wasn't fair that Williams and Dido were allowed to record their bits down the phone because they were off, um, touring internationally.

Thank god, at least, Jamie Cullum was kept busy by the radio times (although, actually, Justin Hawkins also gets interviewed for the RT this week, and he managed to do Band Aid as well. Apparently, catsuits are being phased out: the new look will be "Little Lord Faunleroy meets Indiana Jones.") Cullum really wants a good review in the NME: "I'm a whipping boy for them. It's a shame, it;s one of my favourite magazines... I just wish they didn't take the piss out of me so much."

Well, you never know, Jamie: this week Green Day are on the cover of the NME, which shows that anyone can go from being a laughing stock to a cover star these days. The Day, see, are all political now, which means that we're having to take them seriously. Although it's nice to see a band broadening their horizons, we're not that convinced that a band stopping making pisspoor songs about wanking and starting to make pisspoor songs about Bush is much of a leap forward. In these dark days you can understand any glimmer of radicalism being careered towards, like moths towards the headlights on an eighteen wheeler. Green Day, of course, were never as stupid as they played it, but they're still not quite smart enough to carry the hopes of the American left: Billie Joe seems to think that 54 per cent of the few 18 to 29 year olds voting for Kerry is "pretty overwhelming" - it's barely a nose in front, and that's before the conservatising effects of getting older starts to work on them. And he also makes some slightly fatuous comment that "9/11 didn't happen until Bush was in office", as if there was never any terrorism in America under Clinton.

I don't know if it's a sign that we're old or not, but we have no idea what the sponsor of next year's NME Awards tour is - Shockwaves? Is that the hairgel people? Is that still going? We do notice, however, with a long, happy sigh of relief, that the tour is called
the NME Awards Tour, with no mention of the Brats branding which had been looking increasingly silly with each passing year.

Sons and Daughters burn a CD with parliament, The Crystals and The Smiths on it; while ex-ish Beta Band guy Steve Mason is taken on by Peter Robinson. Robinson encourages him to apply for the deputy news editor position currently vacant at the paper.

In the opinion boxes: Alex Needham suggests that without ego, there would have been no Band Aid III - and points out that The Sun, who seem very keen on the idea of feeding the world, would be the first people to be pushing for the starving to be sent back if they turned up at Heathrow. Slightly unfair - they'd be second, after Toyah. Zane Lowe, meanwhile, suggests that Dizzee Rascal is the most important man in British music.

The Magic Numbers piece is writing-by-numbers: not in the sense of Lazy Journalism, just that it really is by numbers - 2 songs on the debut single; 99 their combined ages, and so on.

Delays don't want to call their new direction a new direction, but don't want to fall back on creating a niche sound. Apparently.

There are two Conor Oberst interviews, one of each side of his two personalities: drunken poet and bush hater at the top two slots of the US chart (although the Green Day piece claims that they're, like, the only musicians in the whole of America who have dared speak out against Bush).

We're already spotting the first "Best record of the year" claims, although we're not yet into December, never mind 2005 - LCD Soundsystem in this instance.

the others - brighton pressure point - "leftover joy division bass"
british sea power - manchester - they're good but the best line of the review is of the city "once this city had Factory Records and aviation company Avro; nowit just has loads of cafes and Mark E Smith sucking his teeth"
help she can't swim - london bestey trotwood - "namechecks Melody Maker. we were hoping to get a shout out but we don't" - but, surely, the NME is the Melody Maker now, isn't it?
the dears - nortuhmbria uni - "sweet, syrupy, yumminess"
what happens
oddly, only two of the reviews this week are split into 'what happens/what this means'
what this means
either they realised it was a bad idea too late to warn the poor sods sent off to see Nick Cave and The Dears that they were abandoning it, or they just couldn't be arsed to do it for the other pieces

eminem - encore - "if this is the end, he's left us with an album that leaves us wanting more", 7
nirvana - with the lights out - "what is rebealed is the way Kurt wrote songs never changed", 7
kylie - ultimate - "a plethora of lacklustre follow-ups", 7
fleeing new york - aok - "trying too hard",7
gwen stefani - love angel music baby - "a triumph", 8

totw - green day - boulevard of broken dreams - "serious musicians for serious times"
outkast - prototype - "start counting the days to Glasto"
keane - this is the last time - "piano-tinkling pop music"

And finally: a Kingmaker fan writes in to thank the NME for mentioning the band. It was only as a crossword clue, but, hey, if you're still interested in Kingmaker after all this time, you're going to take what you get.

STYLE CLASHES AT GIG: Excitement and upsetment at a KROQ sponsored gig in Orange County, California. My Chemical Romance claim that Orange police gave the band a good telling off for being sweary and threatening to start a riot, then said they'd arrest the lot of them for tresspass, and warned they'd never get to play another gig in the country boundaries ever again. The police, however, tell a different tale:

"The supervising officer who was over there told me that [the band] began their show with a profanity-laced tirade. Not just profanity, but vulgarity," said OPD Sergeant Dave Hill. "I guess just draw a distinction between an arena show, where you pay money to get in and hear them curse at you, and an open-air concert in the parking lot of Best Buy, where grandmas and grandpas are walking by and saying, 'Oh my gosh, listen to what's coming out of their mouths.' "

Apparently, things got all out of hand because just too many people turned up for the gig; My Chemical Romance and The Donnas were supposed to be signing stuff, but there was no way for them to make their way through the crowds of autograph seekers before the gig was going to start. So Gerard Way of MCR promised they'd do more signings after they'd played - not in the original plan. This seems to have got the crowd over excited, which made the police think about pulling the set in its entirety. Depending on whose side your sympathy lays, the swearing was either going to far, or an excuse being used to pull the set by the Cops.

Trouble was renewed when MCR tried to keep their promise to do more signings. Fifteen security guards stepped in to persuade the crowd to go home.

The police deny that MCR have been barred from Orange County, though, saying if they wanted to play again, they'd be given exactly the same consideration as anyone else wanting to do a gig there. Even Marilyn Manson.

FEDS PUT THE 'MURDER' BACK INTO 'INC': The long-running investigation into the business dealings underpining Murder Inc records has now pulled in an actual murder into the picture. Dennis Crosby and Nicole Brown have been indicted on charges relating to the slaughter of E. Money Bags (apparently a rapper and not a relative of the Moneybags character who used to appear Whoopee comic from time to time). Moneybags is supposed to have been the target of a hit ordered by Ken McGriff, according to the FBI, following his killing of one McGriff's mates. McGriff's name doesn't appear anywhere in the indictiment.

TWO AND THREE QUARTER SERIES AFTER EVERYONE ELSE, OZZY TIRES OF THE OSBOURNES: Having run out of kids to stick in rehab, and with Sharon having got her wish of 'household name' status, the Osbournes are allowing MTV to quietly drop their series. The programme - whose greatest gift to western civilisation was a wobbly-headed Kelly Osbourne with a face like a duck - will not return for a fourth series, and their poor dog will be left to poop in private.

BUCK GIVES UP: The man who stabbed the man who punched the Doctor has handed himself in to the authorities. David Brown - or Young Buck - had fled following the collapse of the Vibe awards but has now given himself over to the sweet and tender mercies of the American justice system. He's now looking at charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

They've been quick to reassure people with tickets to this weekend's Smash Hits Poll Winners Party is unlikely to turn into the violent farrago that the Vibe Magazine prize giving did: "Really, if someone did want to punch Daniel Bedinfield, we can't see anyone so upset about it that it would lead to a full on fight." Although they are going to keep an eye on Cheryl Tweedy, just in case.

Friday, November 19, 2004

FURTHER JARVIS SIGHTINGS: When jarvis isn't taking part in filuming for Harry Potter, he's going to be flying down to Sydney to take part in a multi-night, all-star Leonard Cohen tribute event. Three nights worth of people covering Len songs, including The Handsome Family, Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright, Linda Thompson and Beth Orton.

FRANZ OUT, JARVIS IN: Although it's being totally spearated out in our minds from the rumours of fist fights amongst the members, Franz Ferdinand have pulled out of the Harry Potter movie because they realised it's a bit naff ("because of scheduling commitments"). Jarvis Cocker and Jonny Greenwood are apparently going to step into the breach. Otherwise, god alone knows, they'd have had to get some actors in or something.

CRAIG'S NOT MAD: It turns out that all that attention-seeking, band-destroying behaviour by Craig Nicholls has been down to Asperger Syndrome rather than more typical rock and roll excess. His diagnosis was revealed during a court hearing in Sydney over an incident where Nicholls had allegedly damaged a photographer's camera. Following the medical notes, charges against Craig were dismissed.

INDIE-DISCONTENT: The indie music sector looks to be starting to rediscover the fire in its belly after more or less keeling over under the weight of Creation. Not only is there a keenness to challenge the Sony-BMG merger, but some have used the MTV EMAs in order to start what looks like a campaign against the power of the majors:

"The majors have such a grip that if they wanted to, they could really block us getting on to the radio and media and into retailers," said Harry Martin of Domino Records, which has hit Scottish band Franz Ferdinand on its books. The band was the single independent act to be playing at MTV's main show in Rome on Thursday.

CURE NOT EXACTLY GIGGLING WITH JOY AT REVIVAL: You'd have thought that getting a whole new generation of admirers, not to mention getting to snog the face off Brian Molko, would have put a bit of a spring in the step of Robert Smith. But oh, no. He's still glum about his long-term prospects:

"It's very flattering," Smith told Reuters Television late on Thursday after performing at the MTV Europe Music Awards, his first MTV event in 15 years. "But I'm not stupid enough to think it's an Indian summer.

"We realise that this upsurge in media attention is almost entirely due to very good young bands picking up on The Cure... The reasons why we do what we do have always been the same and they're not really aspirational. It's never been something I wanted in order to get somewhere."

IF YOU STILL DOUBT IT'S MISMANAGEMENT RATHER THAN PIRACY THAT IS A CHALLENGE TO THE BIG LABELS: Last year, in the first six months and against a difficult market, EMI made a profit of GBP9.2 million. This year, with conditions much improved, especially in their two key markets of the UK and the US, EMI somehow managed to lose nearly half a million quid. How on earth could anyone have managed that?

LAWSUITS TO FILE AGAINST MICHAEL JACKSON? THIS WAY, SIR: Adding to the list of woes for the singer, the latest company claiming that Jacko has forgotten to settle his bills is a furniture store. Apparently, Jackson took away 20 items, including a malachite urn, a Louis XVI-style bust clock, silver bread holder and an "Austrian gold-painted dancing girl," the complaint said. It's all extra work for his lawyers, but they must by now be wondering if they're going to be getting their bills settled any time soon.

A GLIMPSE INTO THE WORLD OF VANILLA ICE: Apparently, Vanilla Ice keeps Wallaroos, the kangaroo-wallaby hybrid, in his home at Port St Lucie. Only he's not really meant to, as its illegal to keep exotic or farm animals in the neighbourhood. And he's not very good at keeping them, either, because they've been found wandering around the streets in a confused fashion. The upshot is that Vanilla might not be keeping Wallaroos very much longer.

IT'S LIKE THE CLASSIC DAYS OF THE CHART SHOW: - by which we mean when it was on at teatime on Channel 4, of course. First, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry are back, and about to release a new album before springtime (in the meanwhile, they're sticking out a live DVD); and their fellow Indie Chart regulars We've Got A Fuzzbox have got a best of album out called, um... Look At The Hits On That. In case you don't get the joke, the sleeve rubs your face in it:

We wonder if the album has got XX Sex on it. The one about how things like Page 3 exploit women for financial gain.

There has, of course, already been a Fuzzbox best of, although it featured rather a lot of alternative versions rather than the originals. And that doesn't have XX Sex on, either. Nor does the BBC Sessions, come to that.

HELLO, SAILOR: We still don't know ("care") where the secret Eminem gig in London will be, but apparently he's going to come over all In The Navy doing a twirl on HMS Belfast for Top of the Pops. We can't actually bring ourselves to make a joke about salty seamen here, but you get the drift.

WELL, IT'S GOOD NEWS THAT SHE'S NOT MAD ANYMORE: Mariah Carey has decided that she's got so few fans left they might as well call her by the name used amongst her closest circle. Henceforward, Mariah Carey is going to be Mimi:

The 34-year-old singer left a message at her HoneyBFly fan club addressing her fans as "Dear Lambs".

It read: "Mimi is a very personal nickname only used by those closest to me ... just one of those little things that I've kept for myself in an attempt to have some delineation between a public persona and a private life. By naming the album The Emancipation of Mimi I am letting my guard down and inviting my fans to be that much closer to me. I now feel I can honestly say 'this is me, the real me, take it or leave it.'"

So, nothing slightly mad there, then.

"NO DAUGHTER OF MINE IS GOING OUT DRESSED LIKE SHE'S MADONNA" SAYS MADONNA: As part of that CNN interview, Madonna was asked how she'd feel if her daughter followed in her footsteps and became a singer known for prancing around in her underwear. Madonna indicated that she probably wouldn't approve. Let's hope she really puts her foot down, because generally: children of stars muscling their way on their parent's acts are a very, very bad thing. (See: Julian Lennon. See also: Sean Lennon.) In fact, we don't think it's been done succesfully since George Formby Jr, although there is an argument you'd have to go back to Pitt and Pitt The Younger since anyone really pulled off doing the previous generation's schtick successfully.

EMAS FALL MAINLY TO OUTKAST: Last night, MTV presented the European leg of its global awards scheme - most of the prizes went to Outkast, and mainly for Hey Ya. The winners in full:

Best Group: OutKast
Best Male: Usher
Best Female: Britney Spears
Best UK & Ireland Act: Muse
Best New Act: Maroon 5
Best Alternative: Muse
Best Album: Usher 'Confessions'
Best Rock: Linkin Park
Best R&B: Alicia Keys
Best Pop: Black Eyed Peas
Best Song: OutKast 'Hey Ya'
Best Hip-hop: D12
Best Video: OutKast 'Hey Ya'
Free Your Mind: La Strada

We're as surrprised as anyone to see that Maroon 5 are considered to be the sound of the future, and slightly disappointed that virtually every prize is going to be shipped back across the water to America. Apart from Muse's award, of course.

Apparently, How Very Random doesn't share our shuddering at the mention of Maroon 5.

R KELLY AND ASHANTI'S SISTER: Interestingly, it seems the Miaimi Herald ran a story about R Kelly hitting on Ashanti's underage sister because they read it on the internet and it "appeared" to have been sourced from the Associated Press. And that was good enough for them. Hey, Miaimi Herald, we've got some great stories for you on that basis... Michael Jackson and the kid from the Kandoo advert... Bill Wyman and the Olsen Twins? For the last six years?... George W Bush and a twelve year old (admittedly, that one's a bottle of malt)

DEATH NOT AN END, UNFORTUNATELY: We don't know what anyone has done to deserve this, but POD are back in the studio making another album. Could we stop it somehow? Send giant magnets to wipe the master tapes, perhaps? Or set some hungry tigers free in the recording studio?

CAUGHT NAPPING: Will Young's twin obviously has the same entertaining charm as his Will himself, as his appearance in a court case where he was accused of affray had to be abandoned after the judge fell asleep. That trial abandoned, another one fell apart when the jury couldn't agree on a verdict. Finally,Rupert Young has now pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of using abusive words or behaviour. During the fracas, the target of Young's abuse, Kawa Ghareeb, 35, received a head injury. Everyone seemed to be pleased the long-running action has finally reached an end:

Outside court Mr Ghareeb said: "If he doesn't go around smashing other people's heads in then justice has been done."

"NOW MY FACE IS AS IMMOVABLE AS THE CLAY COPY IN THE HELLO VIDEO": There's an even odder fact lurking at the bottom of the Lionel Richie's ex-wife and her new ex running an unlicensed cosmetic surgery service out their house story: it turns out Lionel himself has been popping in to get that younger look which can only come from having poison pumped straight into your face. We're not entirely sure if this was before or after his wife hit him with the divorce demands.

"NOW MY FACE IS AS IMMOVABLE AS THE CLAY COPY IN THE HELLO VIDEO": There's an even odder fact lurking at the bottom of the Lionel Richie's ex-wife and her new ex running an unlicensed cosmetic surgery service out their house ,a href="">story: it turns out Lionel himself has been popping in to get that younger look which can only come from having poison pumped straight into your face. We're not entirely sure if this was before or after his wife hit him with the divorce demands.

GREY AREA: The good people at Playlouder were reporting that there's now a video to accompany Dangermouse's Grey Album, the copyright-baiting Beatles/Jay Z mash-up affair from earlier in the year. They pointed out that it looked like someone had spent a fair bit of cash on it, but there was no indication who did it. Or why. Only problem is, the address - - has disappeared without a trace. Curious.

WE'D BE SCARED, TOO: Guy and Sim from Eightes Matchbox B Line Disaster are still shaking from a run-in with PJ Harvey: they asked for an autograph, she tried to slam the door on his head. Mind you, if we were approached in the semi-darkness by 80sMBLD, we'd tend to assume these scary looking men were going to be stealing our handbags, and would be reaching for the mace. They probably got off lightly.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

UNLESS IT'S GIMP MASKS AND SHACKLES, WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE IMPRESSED: Apparently, Britney and current husband Kev Federline are going to launch a his and hers clothing line. It's said to be Kevin's idea, as he beleives he has "great style". Here is Kevin in fashion capital Milan, as if to underline that:

"WOULD YOU DO THAT TO THE VATICAN?": So demands a woman living opposite the Abbey Road studios, pissed off with the graffiti scribbled there by passing Beatle fans. Now, the put-upon council tax payers of Westminster are going to have to bear the cost of cleaning up after pen-wielding Beatles fans. We'd like to see 'em try to write something on the side of the Dakota building.

THEY ALWAYS BLAME IT ON THE HORSES: Trouble for the organisers of the MTV Europe awards - there's a really strong smell of horseshit near the dressing rooms. It could be because they've decided to hold the event at a racecourse; on the other hand, it might just be because Natasha Bedignfield and Anastacia are busy rehearsing.

ICON-A-CHASM: As the poll period flurries further into action, Q announces John Lennon is the greatest rock & roll icon of all time. Yoko Ono turns up to be gloatingly immodest on her moneyspinner's ("husband's") behalf:

"He was a driven man: it was as if he knew that he was to stay on Earth for a relatively short time. He changed people's awareness in an incredible way, both with words and music. He was not afraid to tell the truth and thus give us a clearer picture of what was really going on."

It's true. Some younger readers might be surprised to hear that prior to Lennon writing 'Give Peace A Chance', the world used to be beset by conflicts - "wars" - between various powers. And you would have been hard pressed to find any acorns at all tied in sacks before Lennon gave us the idea - much less forty.

I CAN'T BELIEVE BONO ISN'T INVOLVED: Tschw. The lack of respect these days. Twenty years ago, nobody would dare have taken the piss out of Band Aid - not in public, anyway, not until the first couple of packages of aid were making their way to be thrown out the back of rickety old planes. This time round, OZ Band Aid is up and running before the record is in the shops, turning the weightily important commentary on starvation and food issues into a piss-take about a shady Australian businessman (Big Kev) and his collapsing cleaning fluids empire.

CRACKER JOKE SPUN INTO FULL LENGTH MOVIE: The not-very-good joke that is Tenacious D is set to be turned into a movie, apparently. Tenacious D the movie will tell the story of how the band came together: a fictional story, we guess, rather than 90 minutes of Jack Black being told he was great and men in expensive suits green-lighting projects without a second glance.

'TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE' SAYS WHITE HOUSE: Bravely making an intervention into the US elections less than a month after the close of the polls, Robbie Williams has called Bush an "idiot". Actually, he did manage to make quite a good joke during his Mexico press conference:

"I speak better than him, you know. I'd do a better job than him. And I'm not very bright, I'm not."

Of course, he might just have thought he was being charmingly self-deprecating. It's hard to tell.

MADONNA: 'IT'S NO FAD': Oooh, Madonna is really pissed off that some people call her faddish infatuation with Kaballah a fad. She's gone on CNN to fume about how she's really serious about this:

"I wouldn't say studying Kabbalah for eight years goes under the category or falls under the category of being a fad or a trend.

"Now there might be people who are interested in it because they think it's trendy, but I can assure you that studying Kabbalah is actually a very challenging thing to do. It requires a lot of work, a lot of reading, a lot of time, a lot of commitment and a lot of discipline."

Yes, maybe "fad" is a bit unfair... how does "culty obsession" sound?

HER FACE DIDN'T MOVE THROUGHOUT THE ORDEAL: Now, here's a crime for the twenty-first century: allowing your home to be used for unlicensed botoxing. You might laugh - if you can - but it meant Diane Richie - ex-wife of Lionel - wound up spending a night in the cells and now faces charges. Her boyfriend Daniel Serrano is accused of administering sloppy botox to up to forty people on her banquette:

Up to 40 people are said to have visited the house for the jabs and some have complained of side-effects, including one woman who says she has a bump on her lip that makes it difficult to eat or talk.

Hey... I wonder if that's what happened to Amy Winehouse?

RUFUS HATED HIM. AND NOW HE'S DEAD: It's rare to hear anyone speaking ill of Jeff Buckley, a true artist who had a lot of pain in his life, which he loved, nevertheless, so even although Rufus Wainwright spoils it by ending his tale with a discovery of love and respect for Buckley just before he died, it's refreshing for someone to say they were jealous and resentful of Jeff at all:

"I was really jealous of him and resentful of his success for a long time when I started out. So I began a couple-year-long hatred of Jeff Buckley.

Years later, I actually met him in person and we hung out. This was after I had time to make my own record and have my own set of problems. I realised he was just a very, very delicate and sensitive and depressed guy who, if you blew on him, would crumble.

I had a really lovely night hanging out with him. That night I realised just the futility of jealousy. And, of course, a month later he died. He would have been an amazing guy to sing with."

THE ONLY EULOGY WHERE THE DEAD GUY GETS CALLED A BASTARD AND NOBODY MINDS: The funeral has taken place of Old Dirty Bastard. His Dad told the moruners that Dirty - aka Big Baby Jesus - loved life; while Damon Dash described him as a "true artist with a lot of pain in his life." Which he loved nevertheless.

EVERY VENUE IS ON A LEYLINE. PROBABLY: Just after Christmas, the man who still is in a very real sense an archdrude, Julian Cope is going jaunting off on a tour

Bristol Fleece & Firkin (January 20)
London Royal Festival Hall (21)
Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall (22)
Sheffield Leadmill (23)
Liverpool Carling Academy (24)

CARRIED AWAY BY A FIVE O'CLOCK SHADOW: Although Jack White might be a bit of a knob, he's got a good ear for picking out a collaborator: after doing Loretta Lynn, he's now working on stuff with Brendan Benson. We're not sure how Benson will feel at MTV thus deciding that he's "the new Loretta", but he seems pretty excited by the results of the union:

"It's weird, man. There's stuff on there that sounds like Cat Stevens, and there's some stuff on there that sounds like Led Zeppelin," Benson said. "I can say some of the stuff sounds like pure Jack White. You can hear it and say, 'Oh, that's a Jack White song.' I don't know if people are going to think it's crap or brilliant. I have no idea."

WE'RE NOT SURE THIS ACTUALLY COUNTS AS 'WAR' EXACTLY: Apparently Janet Jackson and Beyonce Knowles are at "war", because Beyonce has eclipsed Janet's positio... oh, because Beyonce pulled out of a duet while janet was being condemned as a breast-flashing moral vacuum. It looks like Knowles invited Jackson to sing a part on the Destiny's Child album - although since she was already sharing the limelight with two other people she can barely stand, maybe she was just hoping to get all the unpleasant business out the way in one go.

NOW, THERE WOULD BE YOUR MIXED MESSAGE: At first glance, the story in the Harrow Times about singer-songwriter Mark Joseph giving a talk to Rooks Heath High School seems to be fairly standard local fayre: he told the kids how he did lots of hard slog to be a DIY popstar, because no record label would support him. So far, so inpsiring.

The curious thing, though, this message of "don't expect a label to support you in your early years, you'll have to support yourself" is part of a tour sponsored by, um, Warner Music's 14th Floor Records, who have now signed Mark up and are paying for him to visit 100 schools nationwide.

Now, with the RIAA/BPI insisting that the high price of music is purely to allow them to fund new artists, isn't it a bit strange their members are underwriting the cost of telling kids to go away and find ways of supporting themselves during the early years?

GROWING MUSES: You'll never guess what... Muse have found some extra tickets for their Earls Court gig on December 19th and 20th and are going to be flogging them off from Friday online. We guess you'll have to be pretty quick on the mouse.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

MUSICIANS LIKE 'LIKE A ROLLING STONE' AND LIKE A ROLLING STONES', SAYS ROLLING STONE: In one of those polls which keep someone with a large tabulating machine out of mischief for a few days, 172 muscians have been asked bY Rolling Stone to name their favourite song. All the songs have been added up to make some sort of a chart and thus we now know that the Greatest Song Ever is Bob Dylan doing Like A Rolling Stone, while the second best song ever is The Rolling Stones doing Satisfaction. If only number three had been Joss Stone and number four Limp Bizkit doing Rollin', we could have put all this down to a puckish sense of wit on the part of editors at the magazine, but, no, it turns out that the whole thing is grimly factual: Imagine at three, and only three songs from the last ten years even scrape in as being any good - and two of them are Eminem tracks. It's like the songwriters, mindful of how recent chart pap clogs up popular polls of this sort, have decided to prove their professionalism by eschewing anything even approaching modern sounding music. In other words: they have swung too far the other way, as is the way of all pendulums.

COVER VERSION RECOVERED: God alone knows what Damien Hirst's cover for the Band Aid single must have looked like if Midge Ure rejected it in favour of this:

Apart from the questionable use of an emaciated child at all (will Chumbawamba be doing a 20th anniversary 'Pictures of starving children sell records'?) it looks to us like the polar bears are hiding behind the tree waiting to attack him. What was going on in their heads when they designed this?

SEATTLE BE ALL?: We're not entirely sure that Busted should be too downcast that their bid to spin their British fame into something more international isn't going too well - they managed to sell 27 tickets for a 300-capacity venue in Seattle. It would probably make sense to stay at home and milk the people who do love you while it still lasts, boys.

THAT'S A SPECIAL WAY TO SAY THANK YOU: If the twitterings of Us Weekly are to be believed - and why should we not set store on the words of a magazine you find conveniently located by a supermarket checkout? - Justin's thinking of dumping Cameron over the nasty paparap fight. "A souce" close to Justin said ole' Timbers is afraid that she's just attracting the wrong sort of publicity that could really harm his lucrative career of making so-so records, endorsing takeaway food and fleshing out the lower end of cast lists on the back of DVD Premiere movies. It is, we're told, exactly the reason why he split with Britney.

So... Justin... it's your girlfriends who constantly lead you into bad behaviour, is it?

THE FAMILY GETS TOGETHER FOR CHRISTMAS: We'd have thought the bad blood between Dave Gahan and Martin Gore would have done for Depeche Mode once and for all, but it seems like they're going to have a crack at producing a new album:

The band will be collectively gathering in Santa Barbara in early December, along with with Daniel Miller, Jonathan Kessler and producer Ben Hillier. In January 2005, after a holiday break, the band will start work on their new album.

NOW DO SOMETHING FOR MATCHBOX 1-19: FreakyTrigger explains what happened to Band Aids 3 to 19. It's funny, plus Tom is going to give a quid to charity for every link the piece gets. So in a way, this entry is virtually a tax-deductable donation in itself.

EMINEM TO COPY EMBRACE: He might be outselling every other in America put together, but Eminem seems so desperate to be loved, he's coming to London this weekend to play a secret gig somewhere. Just like Embrace. Kiss FM are going to have the details, which they will air on Friday; then tickets will go on sale at the venue's box office. So, we can at least conclude that it's going to be a proper venue, if it's got a box office. You'll need to have photo ID to prove you're over 16 to get in, which would seem to imply the venue won't be licensed, which is curious: unless there's going to be consensual intercourse or motorscooters for people to ride around on.

MICHAEL JACKSON? IN COURT? CAN YOU IMAGINE SUCH A THING?: We're sure Jacko will be able to find some time to squeeze in an extra bit of legal action, as Marc Shaffel joins the queue of people who'd like a little word with Jackson. Shaffel was the producer of the Jackson ripostes to Martin Bashir's documentary; the fawning, unquestioning whitewashes he helped create naturally found a home on Fox (network motto: When we call it journalism, Martha Gellhorn spins like a top) and he also helped Jackson make a charity single after September 11th. The single faded away after Shaffel's past making porn surfaced. Shaffel now says he never got his production fee for work on the Jacko whitewash, and that he loaned Jackson cash (apparently to buy jewels for Elizabeth Taylor and to persuade Marlon Brando to speak up in his favour) which he never got back.

WHOOPS: The attempt to try and turn round the Vibe massive scrap into some positive PR might have run into some problems: Portraying 50 Cent as the hero of the hour is going to be quite tricky as police search for, um, 50 Cent's mate Young Buck - who appears to have been responsible for the stabbing. Buck's knife attack was, apparently, in response to Jimmy James Johnson punching Dre first.

AT LAST: A BOOKING FOR THE SO SOLID CREW: Or one of them, at least: Megaman, or Dwayne Vincent to his Mum is being sought by police to offer some help on the murder of Colin Scarlett. They've already charged a Carl Morgan with the milling, but police need to talk to Megaman about the murder.

Vincent's agent, Albert Samuels, says he knows nothing about the case, and that he doesn't know where Vincent is: "I have not spoken to him for about three months." So, the Crew not exactly being overwhelmed by offers of work, then.

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU SLIGHTLY MOULDY LEMONS, CALL IN A PR MAN WITH A SODASTREAM: The Vibe publicity machine seems to be attempting to turn the 'Vibe awards brawl' story into a 50 Cent is a hero tale instead.

IF FILESHARING IS SO BAD, WHY ARE SO MANY RIAA MEMBERS COSYING UP TO IT?: Following on from Sony's simultaneous signing up to the condemnation of filesharing networks and doing a deal with Grokster comes the news that Universal are licensing their songs to be slipped across to a filesharing network sometime soon. Talk about your mixed messages.

TAKE ME OUT, WOULD YOU?: Uh-oh, there's trouble in the Franz Ferdinand camp, with reporting that Alex and Nick had a slightly girly-sounding near-fight experience backstage at the Paris Zenith Club. The nme's source suggests there was "huffing and puffing" behind closed doors, while a band spokesperson rushed forward to say that these things happen in a band, you know, like in families, and everyone's tired and everything.

REWRITING HYMNS: Naturally, the Daily Telegraph is unsurprisingly grumpy that Billy Bragg is rewriting I Vow To Thee, My Country as a socialist rather than a plea to patriotism. The really odd thing about the story, though, is that Bragg co-wrote the new version with Martin Linton, MP for Battersea, with a view to getting the thing sung at Labour Party conferences. Now, who on earth would bother writing a song about socialism for that lot?

FLOGGING A DEAD CORPSE: Subscribers to The Face mailout were slightly surprised to find an email from the axed magazine in their inboxes yesterday - it turns out that EMAP have decided to use the list to try and bark up a few extra subscribers to Arena, on the basis that Peter Saville claims that "Arena has picked up a creative torch left by the departure of The Face" - which shows just what a dead eye he has these days; if anything, Arena has picked up some flatplans thrown out by Esquire. It also claims, quite boldly, that Arena was Britain's first-ever men's magazine - even leaving aside those magazines you'd find hidden in the little tree-hide on the edge of the village, there were certainly men's titles available in Victorian Britain.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

EH?: We're frankly more than a little perplexed at the latest schedule changes announced for Radio One. Sara Cox is returning from maternity leave in February, but she's not going back to daytimes, she'll be moving to weekend afternoons. Ben Cooper - head of mainstream programming at the station - sees this not as a disappointment, but great news, allowing Scott Mills to plough on with the weekday drivetime programme. In other words, just as the creatures of Narnia were forced to live in the perpetual white-out of winter, so radio one listeners at teatime seem condemned to an eternal existence of caretaker management.

More confusingly still, the creation of a Sara Cox weekend show has created a need for something else to be found for JK and Joel, the expensive signings from Manchester who have been praised by people who like that sort of thing for their freeform programming. So, erm, naturally, they've been given the chart show. The press release reckons that the pair are going to "mix their unique take on the world with new download, album and single charts." My Dad would often mention on Saturday evenings how his mother used to despise whoever it was at the BBC who had hired Wilfred Pickles to read the football results, since the people who were interested in the scores didn't want the comedy, and the people who enjoyed the humour would much rather have not had it squeezed into gaps between the classified pools check. It looks like the new chart show will be a homage to those days.

There is one further knock-on effect: Wes Butters, a man who has made no impression despite presenting one of the network's biggest shows, is going to re-attach his surname and leave the station. So much for the bold experiment of using a total unknown on the Chart Show.

WEMBA VERDICT: The trial of Papa Wemba, on charges of people summgling, has ended. The Parisian court pronounced Wemba guilty of aiding 200 Congolese nationals to gain illegal entry to France, handing down a sentence of thirty months. However, much of the term will be suspended and, as Wemba had already spent four months in prison, he was allowed to leave court and head for home.

WE RECKON GABRIELLE'S GOT AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE: At the time of her death, everyone pretty much agreed that Lisa Left Eye Lopes was more or less irreplaceable. However, just as you can't put your arms around a memory, nor can you tour a greatest hits set with a corpse, and so T-Boz and Chilli are looking for a new Left-Eye. As if the sudden mark-down from irreplaceable to vacancy isn't insulting enough for Lisa's memory, the band have decided that they can pretty much plug her hole with a game show winner. They've linked with UPN to create a reality show to find their new third member. The programme - seriously - is being called R U the Girl With T-Boz & Chilli, which might be the most rubbish name we've ever heard for a programme.

LET ME THROUGH, I'M IN SPANDEX: It's encouraging to hear that Dave Lee Roth's desire to become a paramedic wasn't any passing fancy; he's now completed over 200 trips with a New York ambulance crew.

"Not once has anyone recognized me, which is perfect for me" says Roth, although how perfect it'll be come next Greatest Hits time is debatable.

SHORTLIST MUSIC PRIZE TO ADD ANIMALS: Having calmly scooped up the ten thousand bucks Shortlist prize and some sort of ooky-dooky statue, TV On The Radio have big plans to celebrate. Tunde Adebimpe says he's going to take his cats to the vet:

"I’ve been on tour for fourteen months so I want to make sure they’re going to live into the next horrible part of the millennium."

IT'S LIKE WHEN THE BEATLES CAME OUT ON CD. THAT WAS A BIT DUFF, TOO: Oasis take a graceful step into the world of the computer today, with the elaborate roll-out of their back catalogue across download services. The big online music stores will be adding one album a day, in order, starting with Definitely Maybe today. In other words, by Wednesday they'll have got through all the good stuff. If you really, really can't wait for Songbird to be blaring out of your PC, oasisnet has the lot, in one go. That's, confusingly, oasis net dot com, rather than oasis dot net. All the individual stores, from iTunes to, um, isn't there one owned by Coke, will have stuff exclusive just to them, if it all wasn't thrilling enough.

"We decided to go digital when it suddenly became clear that not having Oasis available online wasn't actually holding back the sales of the iPod" we imagine Noel as saying.

IT MIGHT BE THE GREATEST SONG EVER WRITTEN: Band Aid is clearly starting to believe its own publicity a little too much, as the lyrics of a song flung together twenty years ago are now being pawed over like they're the ten commandments, as if the artists think the song itself is in any way important. Get real, singers: it's a device designed to separate people and their money; analysing the lyrics and who sings what bit as if the stress on "tonight" or "bitter" is going to make a penny piece difference is on a par with debating how thick the stem of a British Legion poppy should be, or Andrew Marr putting too much choice into his leather jacket for the Duran skit on Children In Need: it's not in any way significant. Let's join the worst of the lot, thogh, as Bono frets over his "worthiness":

: "I sang the whole song just to remind myself why we were all there. But they were after one line. And it's a line I really, really wasn't comfortable with.

"I didn't like singing it in the first place and I wasn't keen on singing it again - it's such a big line. But Fran and Nigel said, 'You have to sing this line.' I agreed to it. It's important."

I think I see what you've done there, Bono: you've confused something being important with being self-important. It's an easy mistake to make. I just thank God that Nigel Godrich and Fran Healy were on hand to stress how utterly important it is for the starving of Africa - and the people of the world - that you sang that particular line on a charity single. It was vital.

ACTUALLY, MARIAH, WE MEANT SHUT UP ALTOGETHER, BUT IT'S A START: Who knew that going slightly nuts would have a positive effect on Mariah Carey? Apparently, her long, slow climback album sees her finally realising that sticking seventeen notes into a single word isn't the same thing as being a great singer. We wonder if she's also taken the other advice and bought some shirts that do up, too?

WHY IT'S A GOOD THING BRITNEY DOESN'T WRITE HER OWN SONGS: Surely the poem pootling round the web doesn't really come from Britney's own brain-hole, does it? It tells the tale of Britney and Kevin's honeymoon in couplets that would make McGooagall blush:

We hopped on a plane and took our flight
I slept really well, all through the night
As we arrive, I turn and look out the door
People are greeting us right at the shore
A meal, a shower and some ice cream
Then I threw my man down, you know what I mean!

Truly awful, although I guess we can at least take comfort that she didn't invite Dizzee Rascal in to add a little rap at the end.

THE BRASH BRUSH-OFF: Having dated and then dumped probation officer Lisa Brash, Robbie is apparently really upset that she's sold her story to the tabloids. Curiously, she reports Robbie preferred chocolate and cuddling to having sex with her. Just fancy that, eh?

BOY, WE CALL IT JAZZ. EVEN THOUGH IT ISN'T: You have to worry for the future of Jazz when even Jazz FM admits nobody much wants to listen to it. Ofcom have agreed to let the station abandon its promise to play "music that sits well with the term jazz" in favour of daytime R&B and soul - with the token bit of Joss Stone and Jamie Callum's barely-Jazz as a sop to the name of the network. The station will continue to poke jazz out when nobody's listening, stuttering that "Jazz is more of a night-time listen, anyway" - odd claim for a company whose lucrative London licence was based on a claim that there was a huge number of people desperate for jazz round the clock, isn't it?

CHILDREN, CHILDREN: It's perhaps unsurprising that the battling for Old Dirty Bastard's cash has started before his autopsy has finished - it looks like the deciding the cause of his death is going to be a cakewalk compared with the decisions about who gets his money. His wife, Icelene Jones, has rushed forward to try and mark down the number of ODB juniors:

"For the record, he only has three children," Jones, 35, told the Post. "Nothing else was ever proven. There were never any blood tests or his signing any birth certificates. He has three children that we know that are his by his wife only - by me."

Jones has also challenged the details of his death, insisting that, rather than collapsing, Dirty just went to sleep and never woke up again. Or "died", as the doctors would call it.

The cause of death is still puzzling coroners - we wonder if there could be any clues in the behaviour witnessed by his son, fifteen year old Barson, shortly before he left his Dad's studio?:

"He was scratching his head and looking paranoid, real paranoid. He was looking around. He just kept looking over his shoulders."

Hmmm... no clues there, then.

AWARDS EVENT ENDS IN TEARS: So there was Snoop and Quincy Jones, about to present Dr Dre with his lifetime achievement award at the Vibe Awards (held in the glorious surroundings of a shed at Santa Monica Airport) when a big fight broke out. Chairs flew, people chased each other about, and a bloke ended up on the wrong end of a pointy sharp thing. One witness says that he even saw Dre landing a punch or two, although they couldn't say if he was defending or attacking.

JUST ONE NUMBER ONE: According to Paul Clifford, the "chart operations manager of the Official Charts Company", the decision has been "agreed in principle" for the digital download and physical singles chart to merge in the new year. The BPI think that it could be a "shot in the arm" for the singles market, although really, of course, it's a way of forcing out the increasingly embarrassing records making it into the Top 40 on painfully low sales. It's probably going to happen in the next couple of months, so - if you're a band that's been going thirty years and want to grab a Top of the Pops slot, you might have to rush to get the benefit of low singles sales.

GRUFF GOES SOLO: Apparently, he never intended to actually make a solo record, but Gruff Rhys' first in his own name, Yr Atal Genhedlaeth, happened "by accident". Gruff reckons this will be his only solo work, though:

"I'm considering splitting up after this record. I'm not sure where, horizontally or vertically."

BLUESSICKLIST: Get well soon, Lou Pride. He'd gone to play the Lucerne Blues Festival but had a heart attack on Sunday. Festival organisers report that he's stable, and due to return to the states "soon".

BETTER BY DEGREES: If you're in London on November 24th, you might find yourself filling your time well by popping up to the Bush Hall on Uxbridge Road to catch a double-bill - Radian and Christian Fennesz.

OH GOD: It's rubbish, isn't it? Weak vocals, cheesey bontempi backing... obviously, you're not meant to listen to the thing, but even so... it's a fitting heir to the last Band Aid single. Not so sure about how it stacks up against the first one. Still, it's all for charity, isn't it?

Hang about... that's Chris Martin doing the first line? It sounded like Will Young... have they changed the line-up order, or is that a testament to the quality of the producer Coldplay usually works with?

We're a little confused, by the way: when Bob Geldof says that buying the record is "casting a political vote" - what for, exactly? Is it a referendum on starving? And does that mean the estimated fifty-nine million or so people who don't buy it? Do their votes count as a vote against?

WHAT A CHARMER: Interesting, that, given a camera phone and asked to "capture the moment", Damon Albarn came up with this:

Yes... it turns out his moment is one long streak of piss. It's for part of some modish exhibtion sponsored by Nokia.

DAMN, SHE REALLY IS A CONTROL FREAK: Never minding the second-generation nastiness that was The Osmond Boys, Beyonce has been laying plans for a destiny's Child's Children band. Of course, some people suggest that she's never happier than when telling Kelly and Michelle what to do, and this gives her the opportunity to control not just what their kids will be doing but their sex lives, too:

"We'd all have to get pregnant on the same night. We'll plan it. And we'd all have to have girls."

"Michelle... you're going to have a boy? What's the matter with you, do you really hate being part of this band so much? Make a decision, girlfriend: surgery or sissyfication. Or are you quitting Destiny's Child? Hmmm?"

Monday, November 15, 2004

MUSIC TELEVISION: We can't let Monday slide by without mentioning the big music telly event of the weekend - no, not the laughable Hall of Fame, which managed to make a bad idea progressively worse each week until crescendoing with the ceremony itself on Sunday night; not the re-appearance of Alice Nutter from Chumbawamba on Fast Friends (which took non-Muslims and put them into Muslim homes to talk about Ramadam - fast friends, you see?): the lowspot was ITV's Great British Music Test, a pisspoor straight rip of BBC1's The National Music Test. The one difference between the ITV version and the BBC original was there was a thick wodge of cash on offer: ten grand; but to qualify to win the prize you had to fanny about registering, and then the prizewinner was going to be drawn at random from anyone getting more than a few right, so it was basically a raffle.

The show itself was exactly as creaky as you'd expect from ITV: hosted by Gabby Logan and Neil Fox from behind possibly the least attractive stands ever seen on television, from behind which they didn't step once during the entire programme. There was an attempt to get some banter going - Neil's old, Ha-Ha! - but the pair might as well have filmed their parts at different times there was so little chemistry between them. It's not totally Logan's fault - she was just in the wrong sort of show, whereas many decades of research would fail to create a programme in which Fox would seem at home. His stiff, forced jollity brings all the air of a junior diplomat hosting a garden party for local children to any programme he hosts; at least when he wore stupid glasses we could never tell that he was staring at the autocue like an especially poor medium hoping to find some sort of hint of the future in a broken crystal ball.

The quiz element dragged on until eleven o'clock, which isn't really the best point to be trying to engage the audience at home: kids half asleep, adults half pissed. Too many of the questions were about things that were so dull they barely counted as trivia - Dido won the 2004 Brit for best female, did she? It might be a fact, but it isn't really an interesting one, is it? - and there was an entire round dedicated to Status Quo, which just summed up the whole endeavour, really.

SHARES IN ADOBE SLUMP: There's going to be a lot less call for Photoshop - and especially its airbrush functions - with the news (again) that Kylie is going to stop doing raunchy photos. Mind you, shortly after she said that last time, she then announced an Official Kylie "Sexy" calendar (Amazon lists this separately from the mere 'official' calendar).

We wonder if the large number of unsold copies of La La La, the Kylie attempt to pull a 'Sex by Madonna' has influenced this (re-stated) decision?

EVERYTHING WITH DRM... UNLESS IT'S FOR US: Microsoft, the company which seeks to make all music as tight and legal and approved as a Papal-sanctioned marriage blessing, seems to have been caught using music made with an illegal copy of SoundForge. Windows Media Player - you know, the one that promises record companies they can track music so tightly - is apparently shipping with sound files edited on an unregistered copy of the Sony program. Tut tut. Warez For Sure?

PEACE BROKERED IN MARTIKA'S KITCHEN: There was a time for childish things, but now, apparently, Eminem's putting them away. And using Martika to draw a line under all the rap fueding and calling it off. That, you see, is what Like Toy Soldiers is all about.

Of course, while Eminem's attempts to kiss and make-up are a sign of growing maturity on the part of Mr. Mathers, whether Ja Rule and The Source magazine are going to be so quick to accept the olive branch isn't as clear (our guess, based on how rap fueds tend to go, is 'they won't be'), but it's encouraging to see someone trying to extract themselves from the mess. Plus, anything that promises a Martika revival can't be a bad thing, can it?

"WHEN WE SAID WE WEREN'T REALLY LESBIANS, WE DIDN'T MEAN FOR YOU NOT TO TAKE ANY NOTICE OF US": According to the Sunday People, the sudden realisation that nobody is looking any more seems to have made Tatu (remember them?) suddenly be all lesbian again. Let's guess: maybe the claim it was all a publicity stunt foisted on them by an evil manager was... a publicity stunt? Maybe they really are lesbians after all. No, really... come back! Please! Look, we'll wear ankle socks... mmm, girls...

CHANGING ROOM ANTICS: We think the small story that Popdirt has copied out the Sunday Mirror probably sums Girls Aloud up perfectly - screeching at each other over who looks best in a Topshop dress.

THIS CHARMING MAN: Doesn't your heart leap up with delight when you hear the story of a record executive trying to make a couple of thousand bunce for his own pocket off the back of Band Aid 20? Deciding he liked the odds of 5-1 on, this unnamed music biz bigshot tried to stake a million quid on Band Aid being number one for Christmas, which would have allowed him to take home two hundred grand. "Better than the return from a building society" he chortled. The bookies turned him down, as they feel it would take a miracle to stop the bandaidwagon right now. In the old days, they'd have taken the bet and just shortened to odds to 1,000-1 on, what with that being how bookmakers are meant to operate, and everything.

WIPPIT: WHINING A BIT MORE: The complaints from Wippit that 'snotfair, big company's adverts are appearing on the peer to peer networks have now been picked up by the BBC, who've given Paul Myers space to say how it's all wrong, backed up by the BPI:

The BPI is equally quick to condemn established brands becoming bedfellows with peer to peer networks.

'Networks like eDonkey, Kazaa and Grokster facilitate illegal filesharing. The BPI strongly believes that any reputable company should look carefully at the support they are giving these networks through their advertising revenue," it said in a statement.

Besides raising the vexed issue of how far a company should be held responsible for a site where its adverts are served to - if we were representatives for large companies who often buy space of services which fling adverts out through banner networks, we'd think twice before seeking to suggest that the appearance of such an ad indicates an endorsement of the content of that site, as sooner or later that kind of thinking might come round to bite our own members from behind - we're not quite sure the BPI are the best people to run round condemning companies for dealing with, say, Grokster... doesn't Sony have a done deal with them? And isn't Sony on the member companies of the BPI?

LONG RANGE WEATHER FORECAST: SNOW IN AFRICA TOWARDS END OF NEXT MONTH 'UNLIKELY' SAY POP STARS: So, it's been done, then, although the completition of the recording of the Band Aid single hasn't yet stopped jostling for position to get onboard: Madonna has recorded an "introduction" to the video in which the multi-millionaire will insist that we feed the world.

This is the line-up, more or less:

Highlights of the day seem to have been Joss Stone calling the raggle-taggle Irish godfather "Bob Gandalf"; Midge Ure who, if we didn't know better, seemed determined to ensure that his profile should be at least as high as Bob's; and Geldof, who wanted to make sure Everybody Knows How Important He ("This") Is: "But the best thing of all is the attitude. What happened in this room today is properly important and memorable and will be remembered." Prior to getting to work, Geldof wheeled out the bit that Bowie used during Live Aid to set the mood - although, if he was more honest, he'd have just waved U2's album sales chart from the month after Live Aid to help concentrate the minds a little more sharply.

It's hard to knock the efforts, but the problem surely is that the first Band Aid came out of nowhere, and people seemed to be involved for the best of motives: this time round, it's all been a bit of a media circus, with whacky photos being posed on the way in and a surprising amount of stressing of how much crying people did. It feels less like a genuine reaction to a crisis and more like a scramble to be on board the bandwagon. We wonder, for example, if people were shocked and surprised being shown images of starvation, what exactly did they think they were doing it for in the first place? And why did Bob use twenty-year old footage? Maybe because there's less enthusiasm for the project amongst those they're setting out to help this time round - sure, the money would be nice but there are bigger, more structural problems which need to be solved. Ehtiopia's ambassaor Fisseha Adugna worries that the message of "two decades on, and we're still having to do a sing-song to feed the bairns" gives the impression that Ethiopia is a basket case which is always going to need to shake the collecting tin, when, really, it would be much more use to sort out international trade:

Mr Adunga pointed out that Ethiopia lost around $900m from unfair coffee trading in the last five years, and last year had to pay $150m to service its debt.

"If you combine all of this, it is more than $1bn," he said.

"If we save that amount of money, then how many schools and hospitals would have been built in Ethiopia?"

But then "Feed the world/ sort out the coffee markets" isn't quite as catchy, is it?

Experimentalobit: John Balance

The death has been announced of John Balance of Coil. Balance - also known as Jhon and Jhonn, and, when he was a kid, as Geoff Rushton, was a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter for the band, whose workload over the last twenty years was impressive in its own right - dozens and dozens of albums and singles - but also left him enough time to work with a number of other groups, including Nurse With Wound, Psychic TV (of whom Coil was originally an offshoot, before they eclipsed PTV in reputation and influence), Death in June, 23 Skidoo and Current 93.

Coil were a loose collective: Jhonn and co-founder Peter Christopherson - Sleazy - worked with an ever-changing array of talents to produce a sound which would have its fingerprints of inspiration left all over industrial and ambient music. Anything that you've ever danced to wearing pvc or netting, it'll either have been inspired by Balance's work, or probably was his work.
Balance was born in Mansfield in 1962, and attended Lord Williams School, Thame - the story that it was he who invited Throbbing Gristle to perform at Oundle being nothing more than a nice thought; however, it was a mutual love of Throbbing Gristle which cemented Jhonn and Sleazy's friendship as teenagers. Coil had been booked to share a stage with the Gristle at next month's Nightmare Before Christmas.

Jhonn died on Saturday at about half past five; he fell fifteen feet from a first floor landing reports thresholdhouse - alhtough Sleazy heard the impact and got medical help, Balance died shortly after being admitted to hospital. The whole thing seems to have been a terrible, drink-related accident.

AS IF WE HADN'T ALREADY COME TO DOUBT THE VERACITY OF POPULAR VOTES IN THE UNITED STATES: The American Music Awards had a text-in vote (how very 1999, eh?) which meant Kenny Chesney - who sounds like a character from Novelty Island rather than a proper musician - wound up taking a prize home. The even more oddly titled "Merit Award" went to Bon Jovi - we're not sure the implication, that all the other prizes were awarded regardless of merit, was the intention of the organisers. Anyway, here are the big winners:


Female Artist: Sheryl Crow.
Band, Duo or Group: OutKast.
Album: "Confessions," Usher.


Male Artist: Usher.
Female Artist: Alicia Keys.
Album: "Confessions," Usher.


Male Artist: Toby Keith.
Band, Duo or Group: Brooks & Dunn.
Album: "Shock'n Y'All," Toby Keith.

Rap-Hip Hop:

Male Artist: Jay-Z.
Band, Duo or Group: OutKast.
Album: "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," OutKast.

Latin Music:

Artist: Marc Anthony.

Alternative Music:

Artist: Linkin Park.

Contemporary Inspirational:

Artist: MercyMe.

Award of Merit:

Bon Jovi

T-Mobile Text-In Award (voted by public)

Kenny Chesney

To be honest, if Linkin Park is the alternative, we think we'll stick the original, thanks all the same.

LOVE SHAQ: Latest celebrity embarking on the sweet adventure of moving their tax write-off towards a record label: Shaquille O'Neal, the basketball player. (It's a type of netball played by men.) The label is going to be called Deja34, and it's hoped that Shaq isn't going to try and relaunch his stuttering rap career off the back of it. (The career was stuttering, not his rapping, we should point out.)

HER MAJESTY'S REQUEST: Perhaps the most interesting thing in the diary filed by Domino records boss Laurence Bell for The Daily Telegraph (besides it being in The Daily Telegraph) was this little bit:

I took the Eurostar to Paris to see Franz Ferdinand play their biggest ever headline show, in front of a crowd of 6,500. They'd received invitations to the Queen's Christmas ball at Buckingham Palace so I hand-delivered them. They were dumbfounded! After the gig they were presented with a gold disc designed by Hedi Slimane from Christian Dior, who is also one of their tailors.

But then, who needs indie credibility anyway?

WHAT, EXACTLY, IS A POWER COUPLE?: We have no real idea, but apparently Alice Cooper and his wife Sheryl are an Arizona power couple. There's going to be a function of some sort - no word yet on catering, seating plan - to celebrate this in the New Year.

PUT IT AWAY, NOW: The two anarco-hippies who charged the stage during a Cumshots set at a festival in Norway have been in court, following their refusal to pay their NOK10,000 fine. For good measure, the bloke, Tommy Hol Ellingsen got his cock out at the hearing [nsfw, or, indeed, breakfast time]. The feeling starts to grow that maybe this was less about saving the forests, more about giving Tommy a chance to get naked in public, doesn't it? He and his partner in sexcrime, Leona Johansson, are now flogging posters and other doo-dads.

The organisers of the Quart festival, in Kristiansand, were fined about USD7,000 for letting it all happen. And go on for ten minutes. Our understanding is the court wouldn't have been quite so angry if the sex hadn't gone on for so long, making them feel a little inadequate.

NOW... IT'S HENRY ROLLINS VERSUS ANDREW COLLINS: Reviewing movies is one of those jobs which - like, say, writing children's books - that everyone seems to think they can do, even although it's actually not as easy as it seems. The latest celeb pitching up thinking "if Barry Norman can do it, so can I" is Henry Rollins. Henry, however, believes he has all the qualities needed to provide worthwhile movie reviews:

"Here's the bottom line. Everyone hates a critic, but everyone is a critic, so why not me? I'm no expert on film, I'm no columnist, I'm a guy who likes a good movie and I'm sick and tired of walking out of a theater, being CGI'd to death, so if you wanna find out about some films you should see, this is the show for you."

We think we'll stick with Mark Kermode for a while longer yet.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

WHAT DOES SHE WANT WITH ALL THAT BOOK-LEARNING?: Apparently mindfull of the need to find a career once the pop hits dry up, Britney Spears has signed up for college so that she'll have the proper paperwork to help her find something else - after all, Kevin Federline will need to be kept in the luxury to which he's rapidly becoming accustomed, and he's hardly likely to be able to keep up a household on the money he makes dancing, is he? We wonder if Britney has considered being a dental nurse. We think she'd be excellent at it - "here's some gloop, bite down on it now." We wonder if her new college - Pepperdine College - offers a course.

IT'S NO TIME TO BE AFRAID: As we work our way through the music news, something is coalescing into a big jellopool of good intentions and did-they-catch-me-going-in worries: Band Aid 20. BBC News Online is blogging the recording from outside Air Studios. Jamelia manages to be as irritating as ever:

"Of course, we can't stress any more it's for a fantastic cause and something I truly believe in," she said, revealing she would be travelling to Rwanda in January.

"I'm using my popularity to create awareness for something that's so real, it's still here. It's very sad that we're living in a world where we want for nothing but not too far away, there are people in 100% poverty."

Meanwhile, ominously, Midge Ure has announced that Dizzee Rascal has done a "brilliant little rap thing" - so, like every other remake of a classic pop song in the past five years, even Do They Know Its Christmas is going to have the addition of a pointless "rap" wedged in to make it seem more street' more alarming, according to Midge, Dizze "came up with this fantastic line, something about 'help the helpless', which was fabulous." If by "fabulous" you mean "patronising and trite, with overtones of Victorian paternalism" Midge, it really is fantastic.

WHEN STARS ATTACK... THEY WIND UP GETTING SUED: Earlier this year, in London, limp pop singer Chris Martin attacked a photographer trying to take a picture of him and his blonde actor girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow. Chris ended up being the target of legal action as a result, and apologised and everything. Now, though, as is the way, the whole thing is being re-made in Hollywood with a bigger cast - Timberlake and Diaz. And here, too, the twist is the paparazzi are bringing legal action. It turns out these people with their long lenses, who spend many hours sitting out in the cold hoping to get an upskirt shot or two, aren't as hard as we may have been lead to believe - they're actuallt shrinking little violets, in need of protection, reassurance and love. Saul Lazo and Jose Gonzalez say, in their action, that Cameron and Justin taunted them outside the Chateau Marmont hotel. And then they threatened them, and then they attacked them.

It's tricky to know which side to be on in this one: we kind of like the image of Justin Chickenbreast yelling "come back and fight" as much as we like the idea of men who regularly brave the crush outside celeb events being scared of Cameron Diaz.

ODBOBIT: Sadly, Ol' Dirty Bastard is never going to make it to being an Old anything - Russell Jones collapsed on the floor of 36 Records yesterday [13th November] and was pronounced dead.

Jones - who would have been 36 on Tuesday - had adopted a new stage name, Dirt McGrit, following his release from prison in 2003 and had been working on a comeback album for Roc-A-Fella Records.

A founder and key member of the Wu-Tang Clan, the rapid success of the band after the release of 1993's Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was matched by an equally staggering explosion in personal complications. In 1997, Jones was arrested for somehow overlooking the child support payments for three of his children, although with thirteen kids to keep track of, that's not totally unlikely. The following year he pleaded guilty to an attempted assault on his wife, although he didn't keep his erratic behaviour in the family. He rushed the stage at the Grammys and wrested the microphone from Shawn Colvin to hector the crowd, got shot in the back during a break-in in his house and got arrested in a Virginia shop trying to pinch some pumps. At one point he announced that in future he would be answering to the name Big Baby Jesus; and the whole of the Wus were suspected of gun-running out of Staten Island. That was never proved, but Jones managed to pull together an impressive collection of other crimes on his rap sheet - wearing body armour while a convicted felon and terrorist threats amongst them. His jail sentence last year came after he failed to complete court-ordered rehab for a drugs offence.

Perhaps more disturbingly, in 1996 he offered his stamp of credibility to Mariah Carey's unusual career, duetting with her on Fantasy. Meanwhile, by the time of the Wu's second album, there was a sense that the records were starting to play second fiddle to the leisurewear and lifestyle products coming out under the Wu brand. The legal problems accounted for Jones' absence from 2001's Wu collection, Iron Flag.

Ghostface Killah, who rushed to the studio after the news of Jones' death came through, was first to eulogise. He told the New York Daily News: "This ain't no joke. This is real life, just like you lose your mother, or your brother," GhostFace Killah said to the New York Daily News. "This is a big loss, but I guess he's with the Father now. He's in good hands."